Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2020

Patrick Crocker

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Father, husband, and veteran who wants to change healthcare one life at a time.”

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was the school mascot, Superfrog, as an undergraduate student, and worked as Foghorn Leghorn at Six Flags over Texas in high school.

Undergraduate School and Major: Texas Christian University, BS in Psychology; University of Richmond School of Law, JD

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Army, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Chief of Justice (Supervisory Prosecutor) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: This may not seem typical, but I’m most proud of having such a strong marriage with two great kids, given everything my family has been through over the past 10 years. I loved being able to serve my country in the Army, but service can put a big strain on relationships and marriages. Through eight moves, two deployments, and countless nights and weekends away from my wife and kids, I’m so proud of where we are as a family right now. “The world breaks everyone,” as Hemingway wrote, and I am one of the many who is stronger in the broken places.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? If I had to pick just one, I’d say down-to-earth. The environment at Haas is extremely welcoming, and there hasn’t been any hint of competition or students sizing each other up. Everyone is accomplished, confident, and incredibly kind and genuine.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The key factor would probably be the quality and integration of the dual MBA-MPH program. I am looking to pivot from legal practice in the military to a strategy and business development role in the healthcare sector, so I want to gain perspective and skills from both a business and healthcare standpoint. Haas has about 15 or so “dualies” in each class year that work on an MPH simultaneously, and there is a long list of graduates who are doing amazing things in the healthcare sector. The history, breadth, and seamless integration of the two programs were huge draws for me.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Definitely the Haas Healthcare Association, which is extremely plugged in to the health sector in the Bay Area, and Haas@Redwoods, which organizes hiking and outdoor activities around Berkeley and beyond to take advantage of the incredible natural beauty here. There are a ton of other organizations and opportunities that look really interesting, though, so it will be picking and choosing that will be the tough part!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? In 2015, I had been on active duty in the Army for about seven years and found myself in a job that I loved, living in a location and in a house that I loved, and knowing I would have to leave it in a few months due to the usual military assignment rotation cycle. I decided that I wanted to transition out of the Army to give myself and my family more control and, ultimately, more stability in our lives and in my career. I was attracted to business because companies consistently look to the future, while the law constantly looks to the past, which is why attorneys, legislators, and courts are always rushing to catch up with industry. Business school is a perfect vehicle to acquire the quant skills that are often ignored in legal practice, develop a new network of contacts that I didn’t have access to in the Army, and propel myself into a new function and new industry more seamlessly and more effectively than would otherwise have been possible. It took three years to finish out my service obligation and get to this point, and I’m very happy to have been welcomed into the Haas community.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? It’s a cliché, but life is short. It would have been easy to simply reason that I had already been to law school and practiced law for ten years, so I should just keep on going either in the Army or in civilian or federal practice outside of the military. Inertia is a powerful force, and I believe I would have been miserable if I’d given into that. As a veteran, I also have access to the GI Bill, which is extremely valuable at a state school like UC Berkeley. An MBA is absolutely worth the investment if it gets you where you want to go AND if you want to experience the MBA journey along the way. For me, taking two years to focus on learning, networking, having the opportunity to intern with multiple healthcare companies, and explore northern California was well worth the opportunity cost of being out of the job market for two years.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Texas Christian University (Neeley), Harvard (HBS), Michigan (Ross), Minnesota (Carlson), Dartmouth (Tuck), and Washington University in St. Louis (Olin).

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I did a lot of research on the school websites, secondary source sites like P&Q and Clear Admit. I also contacted current or former students from each school. I knew I wanted to attend a smaller program and I wanted a very collaborative, friendly environment in a location that would be fun and interesting for my wife and two kids. Because I’m kind of a research and data nerd, I compiled a ton of info on prospective schools and locations into excel spreadsheets and quantified/weighted/color coded different qualities and outcomes of each. I drove my wife crazy by constantly talking about new information I’d found or what this person or that person had told me, and I attended info sessions and met a couple of current students for coffee when they were near where I lived.

I had two years to mull all this over (I was finishing up an active duty service obligation), which was probably too much time, but it did let me do a serious deep dive into about 25 programs. Some programs I ruled out because of conversations with students and didn’t think the culture was a good fit. I ruled out others because I visited the campus and didn’t get a good feeling about the program. For some, ]the location didn’t seem to fit the kind of day-to-day life my family wanted (there are some great schools in Manhattan, but I couldn’t figure out how I’d live in 500 square feet with my wife, two kids, and two cats). Ultimately, I determined that Haas was a place that would challenge me to grow the most, get me out of my comfort zone, and help me figure out who I am outside of the Army.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Wow, that’s a big question. The birth of my children was a huge moment for me. I have twins who just turned eight. In 2010, they were born 15 weeks premature while I was 8,000 miles away deployed to Afghanistan. My path was set by their birth, the four months they spent in the neo-natal intensive care unit, and the months, and years of specialty appointments and surgeries and therapy they endured. They were my inspiration to pursue a role in healthcare, post-MBA, and they continue to amaze and inspire me every day.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I would like to find a role in strategy/business development or management within an integrated healthcare delivery system. I’m going to explore opportunities in the biotech, medical device, and pharmacy benefits management spaces as well, but right now I think I’d like to have a role where I can see and impact the care as it’s delivered to the patient.

Where do you see yourself in five years? That seems like a long way off right now, but I would definitely like to be settled somewhere with my kids in a great school system and no plans to move anytime soon! I’d love it if I could be in a role where I could have a strategic impact on the delivery of healthcare, be empowered to find and creatively solve problems within the organization, and be a part of a cohesive, collaborative team.

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